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Optical interconnects for satellite payloads: overview of the state-of-the-art

Publication date 2010
B-Phot Authors Michael Vervaeke, Jurgen Van Erps, Hugo Thienpont
DOI 10.1117/12.853641
M. Vervaeke et al., “Optical interconnects for satellite payloads: overview of the state-of-the-art,” in Proc. SPIE, Micro-Optics, VCSELs, and Photonic Interconnects III, 2010, vol. 7716, p. 77161E.
Abstract The increased demand of broadband communication services like High Definition Television, Video On Demand, Triple Play, fuels the technologies to enhance the bandwidth of individual users towards service providers and hence the increase of aggregate bandwidths on terrestial networks. Optical solutions clearly leverage the bandwidth appetite easily whereas electrical interconnection schemes require an ever-increasing effort to counteract signal distortions at higher bitrates. Dense wavelength division multiplexing and all-optical signal regeneration and switching solve the bandwidth demands of network trunks. Fiber-to-the-home, and fiber-to-the-desk are trends towards providing individual users with greatly increased bandwidth. Operators in the satellite telecommunication sector face similar challenges fuelled by the same demands as for their terrestial counterparts. Moreover, the limited number of orbital positions for new satellites set the trend for an increase in payload datacommunication capacity using an ever-increasing number of complex multi-beam active antennas and a larger aggregate bandwidth. Only satellites with very large capacity, high computational density and flexible, transparent fully digital payload solutions achieve affordable communication prices. To keep pace with the bandwidth and flexibility requirements, designers have to come up with systems requiring a total digital througput of a few Tb/s resulting in a high power consuming satellite payload. An estimated 90 % of the total power consumption per chip is used for the off-chip communication lines. We have undertaken a study to assess the viability of optical datacommunication solutions to alleviate the demands regarding power consumption and aggregate bandwidth imposed on future satellite communication payloads. The review on optical interconnects given here is especially focussed on the demands of the satellite communication business and the particular environment in which the optics have to perform their functionality: space.
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